Google Local Storm is Brewing

I’m out in Las Vegas at CES giving a couple talks on social media for AMEX OPEN and one of the big topics is Google’s new Nexus One phone. While it is a bit interesting that they’ve jumped into yet another market, I think the message that’s getting lost in a great deal of their recent moves is the way they are setting up to take over local advertising, marketing and search.

I’m working on a series of posts on this topic (small business better get good at local search or prepare to disappear.) and the recent holiday visit from my college and just out of college age kids reinforced what’s going on with local search and Google. By the way, when I say local search I mean when someone is trying to find a business online in their town.

When twenty somethings want to find something they often go to one of two sources – in this order 1) They fire up a mobile browser, plug in “dentist” and call the closest pin drop or 2) they ask a close friend. Understand that neither of these methods involves advertising, marketing or even search for that matter. No Yellow book, no print ad, no SEO – it’s becoming very much about showing up on the local search map. (I understand that this is a new form of SEO, but you better get your arms around it if you are either an SEO provider or small business.)

Case in point – Google announce yesterday another feature making local search even easier (only on new iPhones and Android phones for now) The feature is called “near me now” – you can read Google’s near me now announcement here.

near me nownear me now googlenear me now google local

Click to enlarge the images

If you’ve given Google permission to use your phone’s current location (under settings link) when you use your mobile browser you will see a new link under the Google search button that says: current city Near me now. If you click that you will get a menu of common places such as coffee and bars and the ability to click on one and find all the places in Google local nearest you now. Pretty darn easy way to drive business isn’t it?

Well, if anyone thinks Google put the Yellow book directories out of business just for sport, think again. This is the total domination of local search for ad money coming soon storm. Get in the storm shelter while it’s cheap! More to come on this.

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  • Promotional_Products

    Good points John. I'm actually surprised this isn't one of the first spots they monetized. It's a goldmine for sure.

  • ducttape

    Funny company, they have a lot of money and can take their time to disrupt entire industries before the need to cash in.

  • Nathan Hangen

    It's also amazing how they can, at will, destroy nearly any industry they want.

    This is a gold mine to both Google and brick and mortars ahead of the curve.

  • Webster Jorgensen

    There goes Sherpa and many other local apps. Maybe the rest of the Internet (minus MS, FB and Twitter) should just give up…put up the white flag. Maybe this will persuade Google to be merciful and provide the rest of the internet with something like a reservation (sidestep the SEC) where they can make just enough money to afford a steady diet of Ramen Noodles and Kool-Aid :)

  • LADWebDesign

    Very few of the local businesses I speak with know the importance of being accessible through local search. I am putting out a proposal to a karate place owner who has 7 other karate places competing for the top spots in Google – and he isn't currently listed there. There are an average people of 40,000 people per month looking for info on Karate in our town – and he is currently missing out on that traffic.

  • James

    Thanks John for pointing out this upcoming storm. You're right it is huge in its effects. It's a Google wave for right now, that of course can change over time. Hard to believe, but some day the search industry won't be dominated by Google. Not that I see that happening anytime soon. And I'm very much looking forward to more from you on this development. You do a great job of keeping us small business types informed.

  • John Hyde in York

    It's another new way for clever companies to get ahead of the pack – while rivals are moaning about the recession, the weather, the government, the laws of physics, …

    Thanks for the tip.

  • soundpages

    This post is so dead on. I have been helping local business in the Gainesville Ga area understand the need to be in Google Local and maps for the last year, and amazing they still question and resist, as if they have some loyalty to their radio, TV and yellow page rep. I am sending this blog post to every business owner I know. Your quote, “small business better get good at local search or prepare to disappear.” is my mantra for 2010, thanks John. I look forward to learning more your about “near me” and your thoughts on local search.
    I tell businesses, only 2 things matter, getting found online and what someone finds. Many fail miserably on both accounts.
    I have one prospect, in Google maps for local 50K search term and still has no website. Geez.

  • ducttape

    We will be singing this song for years to come, but I guess that keeps us working! – love this . . .only 2 things matter, getting found online and what someone finds

  • dancook

    You're right on the money on this one. I stopped in to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant about an hour ago. Two 20-somethings were sitting at a table. “How did you find this place?” I asked (because it ain't easy to find). “My phone,” one said. As if to say, “My phone, DUH, old man!”

  • ducttape

    yea, but did they offer to pick up the check? It's so true

  • dancook

    Still spending mom and dad's money most likely. Slackers!

  • rdnoran

    Yes, and they also have a test running in San Fransisco and San Diego on local pay for advertising inside Google local business center. One flat monthly fee and they announce the calls a to you as they come in from Google… “This call is from Google.” Pretty cool stuff.

    A sincere Google fan,

  • ducttape

    Yes, and imagine how this is going to play into Google Voice!

  • Alan Underkofler

    “Funny company, they have a lot of money and can take their time to disrupt entire industries before the need to cash in.”

    This response it so true… It seems like the more dependent we become with Google the products they release…. Some fantastic and some need a ton of work but the reason why so many of us like it is it's all in one place! From my google page I have one click access to 5 Google programs i use every day and another 10 i use often… This makes it really easy for me to try and become a user of every new program or product they release… Brilliant!